Monday, January 14, 2013

VCU GH2DP Honduras Trip Update: Day 2

Honduran countryside
Today we traveled from La Ceiba to Olanchito and met with some of our local community partners.

Our medical and public health work is focused in and around the rural mountain village of La Hicaca. This area includes 17 villages and approximately 2,000 people; as previously noted, these people have very limited access to medical care.

Olanchito, Department of Yoro
Olanchito is the nearest city with a public hospital; this is a good 2 hours away from La Hicaca via truck. This distance is a major barrier to accessing care for people in and around La Hicaca, most of whom do not have access to vehicles.

Today we met with our colleagues from the local Catholic church (which has a major regional presence) as well as a few local volunteers. We discussed the results of last Summer’s water filter project, indoor air quality survey and our anemia point prevalence survey, as well. More importantly, we started to lay down the ground work for this June’s medical and public health trip.

Sharing the results from our June projects with our
community partners (photo credit: Dr. Gonzalo Bearman)
We were able to better identify how many households in the region we serve have water filters; at this point we have 141 water filters 'in the field' that are active (each water filter has to be replaced every 2 years). As there are 248 families in this area we now have provided a source of clean drinking water to approximately 57% of families. Our goal-an ambitious one-is to distribute water filters to the remaining 107 families this Summer. Ultimately we would like to help the local communities in this region develop more sustainable water sources (such as wells), however, local infrastructure (roads, especially) have precluded such projects to date.

We also discussed ways we can provide more people in this region with direct medical services during our June trip. Only 3 of the 17 villages we serve are accessible via truck, and we estimate we only provided care to approximately 20% of all of the people in this region during last year’s trip. By setting up our clinic at multiple villages during this upcoming trip we may be able to provide care to more people. We will drive to Lomitas on Wednesday to see if having a clinic there will be feasible.

Tomorrow we meet with the Minister of Health and then travel up to La Hicaca. I will update the blog when we get back to Olanchito (no WiFi in the mountains).

You can learn more about the VCU Global Health and Health Disparities Program (GH2DP) and our work in Honduras here

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